|Publication number||US8051209 B2|
|Application number||US 12/324,272|
|Publication date||Nov 1, 2011|
|Filing date||Nov 26, 2008|
|Priority date||Nov 26, 2008|
|Also published as||US20100131587|
|Publication number||12324272, 324272, US 8051209 B2, US 8051209B2, US-B2-8051209, US8051209 B2, US8051209B2|
|Inventors||Eric McQuaid Zenz, Aswan Prasad, Rajendra H. Vishnumurty, Alexander Joseph Pope, Alice Steinglass|
|Original Assignee||Microsoft Corporation|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (21), Non-Patent Citations (6), Referenced by (1), Classifications (6), Legal Events (3)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
Task management application software gives users the ability to manage projects in an efficient and effective manner. A project manager can organize a project into tasks, assign tasks to specific users and allocate resources for tasks. Tasks management software can control the flow of work, link interrelated tasks and help ensure that project deadlines are met.
Task management information can be stored on two or more computer systems that share interrelated data. When these systems permit updates to the same data, conflicts may arise, especially when the interrelated data contains serially related tasks. For example, if a user on one system changes the start date for a task, the start and completion dates for interrelated tasks may also change. These transitive changes may be perceived as conflicts by some systems.
Embodiments of the invention are directed to resolving conflicts between interrelated data on a client computer and a server computer. As described herein, information for one or more tasks stored on a client computer is published to a server computer. The information includes one or more attributes for each task and a unique client computer task management application identifier for the task. When one or more of the tasks are edited, at least one bit is set in a data structure, typically a bitmask, for each task in which an attribute is changed. When a synchronization operation is performed on the client computer, a list of tasks stored on the server computer is obtained by the client computer. For each task in the list of tasks, a determination is made as to whether the server computer identifier for the task maps to the client computer identifier for the task. If there is a map, a determination is made as to whether the task exists on the client computer. If the task does not exist on the client computer and the task has not been updated on the server computer since the last synchronization operation, a request is sent from the client computer to the server computer to delete the task from the server computer. If there is not a map, a new task is created on the client computer corresponding to the task that does not map.
If the task does map to a task on the client computer and the task exists on the client computer, a determination is made if any of the bits in the data structure for the task are set. If any of the bits in the data structure for the task are set, and the date and time that the task was last modified on the server computer is earlier than the date and time that the client computer last initiated a sync operation, task information is sent to the server computer for each task in which any of the bits in the data structure for the task are set. If any of the bits in the data structure for the task are set, and the date and time that the task was last modified on the server computer is later than the date and time that the client computer last initiated a sync operation, the user is alerted to a conflict in the task and is permitted to manually resolve the conflict.
The details of one or more techniques are set forth in the accompanying drawings and the description below. Other features, objects, and advantages of these techniques will be apparent from the description, drawings, and claims.
The present application is directed to systems and methods for resolving conflicts when synchronizing interrelated data stored on two computer systems. The systems and methods separate actual changes (e.g. a user changing the start date for a task) from transitive changes (e.g. a task's start date changing because the start date of a predecessor task changed), provide automatic resolution of transitive changes and alert users to conflicts in actual changes. A conflict occurs as a result of changes to the same data in both systems.
Typically, one client computer, for example client computer 101, runs a task management application software program in which projects are organized into interrelated tasks. An example project management system that runs task management application software is Microsoft Project 2007 from Microsoft Corporation of Redmond, Wash. Typically, the server computer runs a browser-based collaboration and document-management software program such as Windows Sharepoint Services (WSS), also from Microsoft Corporation. Typically, example client 102 uses a web browser across network 106 to access project management task lists stored via WSS on server 104.
An example task management application may contain many interrelated tasks. One or more tasks may include dependencies on predecessor tasks. For example, task B may not be permitted to start until task A is completed. Similarly, task E may not be permitted to start until each of tasks B, C and D are completed. If the task date of a dependent task is delayed, for example because the start date of a predecessor task was delayed or because the duration of a predecessor task was increased, the completion date of the dependent task is also delayed. This delay may affect the start and completion dates of additional tasks.
A task management application such as Microsoft Project 2007 is typically controlled by one person, for example, a project manager. However, it is desirable for team members to be able to access tasks assigned to them and to update projected completion dates and percent complete status for those tasks. An online collaboration program like Windows Sharepoint Services permits task lists to be stored on a server computer, for example server 104, so that users, for example a user on client 102, can access the task lists and make changes to them when appropriate. Any changes made by the project manager or by team members need to be synchronized between client and server and actual conflicts need to be resolved. An example of an actual conflict is if both the project manager and a team member assigned to a task change the start date or the duration for the same task.
The example user interface module 202 permits a user to enter project entities like tasks, resources and assignments into the project management system. The entities are typically stored in tables, so that there typically would be a table for tasks, a table for resources and a table for assignments. Associated with a project task are one or more attributes related to the task. The attributes correspond to columns in the task table. Some example attributes are the name, owner, start date, completion date, project duration and status of a task. Each task also has a unique project identifier to identify the task.
A user may choose attributes from a plurality of attributes made available in the example project management system. The example user interface module 202 permits the user to select one or more of these or available attributes and associate the attributes with a task. The example user interface module 202 also permits the user to select one or more attributes made available on the server computer for each task. Server attributes typically include the name, owner, start date, completion date, project duration and status of a task. The result is a set of client and server attributes associated with each task that are monitored by the task management system.
The example project engine module 204 provides a software engine that runs the project management system. One or more tasks may be linked to other tasks in a parent/child relationship. One or more tasks may have a predecessor or successor relationship with other tasks. When a start date or task duration changes for a task, the example project engine module 204 calculates the resulting start dates and end dates of all linked tasks and updates the dates for those tasks in the project management system.
The example sync module 206 controls the synchronization of tasks between the client computer 101 and the server computer 104. The sync module 206 also includes changelists and bitmasks for each task. A changelist is a list of attributes for each task that may be synchronized between the client computer 101 and the server computer 104. The changelist corresponds to the client and server attributes for the task selected by the user via user interface module 202. A bitmask is a data structure that includes a bit for each attribute in the changelist. A bit is set in the bitmask when the corresponding attribute changes on the client computer 101. The sync module 206 uses the bitmasks to determine which attributes have changed on the client computer 101 so that these attributes can be synchronized with corresponding attributes on the server computer 104.
When a changelist and its associated bitmask are created for a task, the sync module 206 registers the changelist and bitmask with the example project engine module 204. When a user edits a task via the user interface module 202 and commits the edits, a bit is set in the task bitmask for all attributes that are changed. The sync module 206 is notified of the attribute changes.
When a user completes the initial entry of a project into the project management system, the project management system publishes the attributes for each entered task to the server 104. One of the attributes that is stored on the server 104 is the unique client computer task management application identifier for each task, for example, the Microsoft Project ID for the task. The tasks are stored in a task list on server computer 104 and each task is assigned a unique server computer application identifier, for example the WSS ID for the task. The unique client computer task management application identifier for each task and the unique server computer application identifier for each task are mapped and stored in both the client computer 101 and the server computer 104.
Once a task list for a project is published on server computer 104, a user on network 106, for example a user on client computer 102, can access the task list and make changes to task attributes, assuming the user has the authorization to make those changes. For example, a user on client computer 102 can change the percent completion or the status of a task. A user may also create one or more new tasks on server computer 104. A timestamp is stored on the server computer 104 as a task attribute for whenever a task list is updated.
In order to synchronize changes between client computer 101 and server computer 104, client computer 101 periodically performs a sync operation. The sync operation is typically initiated via user interface module 102 by clicking an example synchronization button, for example Sync button 208, on user interface module 202.
During the sync operation, the client computer 101 downloads the list of tasks from server computer 104. The task list includes columns that correspond to the attributes for each task. The unique client computer task management application identifier and the unique server computer application identifier for each task are included in the attributes obtained from server computer 104 for each task. For each task in the task list, the sync module 206 determines whether there is a task on client computer 101 with the same unique client computer task management application identifier. If there is not a task on client computer 101 with that client computer task management application identifier, it is an indication that the task was deleted from client computer 101. If the task has not been updated on the server computer since the last sync operation, the task is deleted from the task list on server computer 104. However, if the task has been updated on the server computer since the last sync operation, a conflict situation occurs. In example embodiments, a dialog box is displayed from which the user can resolve the conflict. In addition, if a task has been deleted from the server computer 104 but not from the client computer 101, a conflict situation also occurs and the user is given a chance to recreate the task on the server computer 104.
If an example task on a task list downloaded from server computer 104 has a server computer application identifier, for example a WSS identifier, but does not have a corresponding client computer task management application identifier, it is an indication that a user added a new task to server computer 104. In this case, project engine module 204 creates a new task on client computer 101 and copies the attributes for the task.
If a task in client computer 101 has a client computer task management application identifier that matches the server computer application identifier downloaded for the task from server computer 104, the sync module 206 obtains the bitmask for the task and determines if any bits are set. If one or more bits in the bitmask are set, indicating that one or more attributes have changed since the last sync operation, the sync module 206 checks the timestamp attribute for the task downloaded from server computer 104. If the task was modified on server computer 104 before the last sync operation, it is an indication that new changes only occurred on client computer 101. Therefore, these changes can be uploaded to the server computer 104 with no conflict.
If the task was modified on server computer 104 after the last sync, it is an indication that changes were made both on client computer 101 and server computer 104 since the last sync operation. In this case, the sync module 206 flags the attributes set in the bitmask for the task as conflicts. In example embodiments, the user interface module 204 displays a dialog box to the user so that the user can resolve the conflict.
In some embodiments, the sync operation can be initiated from the server computer as well as from a client computer. In other embodiments, the project management application can be stored on a server computer and a sync operation can be initiated from this server computer. In still other embodiments, a file sharing program can be stored on a client computer. For this embodiment, a sync operation can be initiated from a client computer storing the project management application to a client computer running a file sharing program. Other configurations are possible.
At operation 506, the task information is sent to the server computer, typically by publishing it to a document sharing and collaboration program running on the server computer. When the task information is stored on the server computer, the server computer assigns a unique server computer application identifier for each task. At operation 508, the unique server computer application identifier is obtained for each task and stored on the client computer.
When a task is stored on the server computer, a timestamp is also stored, indicating the date and time that the task was last modified on the server computer. At operation 510, the timestamp for the task is obtained from the server computer and stored on the client computer. At operation 512, the unique server computer application identifier for each task is mapped to the unique client computer task management application identifier for the task and the mappings are stored on the client computer.
When each task is created on the client computer, a changelist is also created. The changelist identifies attributes for the task that are to be synced with the server. A bitmask is created for each changelist, with each bit in a bitmask corresponding to an attribute to be synced. At operation 514 the bitmasks for each task are stored on the client computer. When a task is edited via the client computer task management application, one or more attributes are changed. At operation 516, a bit is set in the bitmask for the task for each attribute that is changed.
Periodically, particularly when tasks are edited on the client computer, the client computer initiates a sync operation to sync these changes with the server. The sync operation is initiated at operation 518.
If a task does map, at operation 608, a determination is made as whether the task exists on the client computer. If a task maps but does not exist on the client computer, it is an indication that the task was deleted from the client computer. Therefore, at operation 610, the task is deleted from the server computer so that the server computer is consistent with the client computer.
If the task both maps and exists on the client computer, a determination is made at operation 612 whether any bits in the bitmask for the task are set. If any of the bits in the bitmask for the task are set, indicating that at least one attribute for the task has been changed, a determination is made at operation 614 as to whether the server computer was updated before the last client computer sync. This determination is made by checking the date and time that the task was last modified on the server computer with the date and time that the client computer last initiated a sync operation. If the date and time that the task was last modified on the server computer is earlier than the date and time than the task was last modified on the client computer, indicating that the task was updated on the client computer and the server computer does not yet have this updated information, the updated task information is sent to the server computer at operation 616.
If a bitmask bit is set for the task and the server computer was updated after the last client sync, the client computer flags as conflicts all fields in which the bitmask bits are set and at operation 618 displays a dialog box to the user showing the conflict. At operation 620, the user manually performs conflict resolution by choosing one of the conflicting attributes. This is typically done via the dialog box that displays the conflict.
When conflict resolution is computed for a task or when operations 606, 610 or 616 have been completed if there is no conflict, control passes to operation 622 to check the next task and proceed with task 604 again, as discussed. Any transitive changes are automatically updated by the task management application, minimizing the conflicts presented to the user for resolution.
With reference to
The computing device 101 may have additional features or functionality. For example, the computing device 101 may also include additional data storage devices (removable and/or non-removable) such as, for example, magnetic disks, optical disks, or tape. Such additional storage is illustrated in
The computing device 101 may also contain communication connections 718 that allow the device to communicate with other computing devices 720, such as over a network in a distributed computing environment, for example, an intranet or the Internet. Communication connection 718 is one example of communication media. Communication media may typically be embodied by computer readable instructions, data structures, program modules, or other data in a modulated data signal, such as a carrier wave or other transport mechanism, and includes any information delivery media. The term “modulated data signal” means a signal that has one or more of its characteristics set or changed in such a manner as to encode information in the signal. By way of example, and not limitation, communication media includes wired media such as a wired network or direct-wired connection, and wireless media such as acoustic, RF, infrared and other wireless media. The term computer readable media as used herein includes both storage media and communication media.
The various embodiments described above are provided by way of illustration only and should not be construed to limiting. Various modifications and changes that may be made to the embodiments described above without departing from the true spirit and scope of the disclosure.
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|U.S. Classification||709/248, 709/224|
|International Classification||G06F15/173, G06F15/16|
|Mar 27, 2009||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: MICROSOFT CORPORATION, WASHINGTON
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:ZENZ, ERIC MCQUAID;PRASAD, ASWAN;VISHNUMURTY, RAJENDRA H.;AND OTHERS;SIGNING DATES FROM 20081120 TO 20081121;REEL/FRAME:022471/0616
|Dec 9, 2014||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: MICROSOFT TECHNOLOGY LICENSING, LLC, WASHINGTON
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:MICROSOFT CORPORATION;REEL/FRAME:034564/0001
Effective date: 20141014
|Apr 24, 2015||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 4